Some of the biggest names in Scotland’s hospitality industry have responded to the First Minister’s reopening announcement today (Tuesday 16th March 2021), confirming indicative dates for the easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland with an end to the ‘Stay at Home’ rule on April 2nd and hospitality set to start reopening from April 26th.
James Thomson, the owner of Prestonfield House Hotel and The Witchery, said, “Today’s announcement by the First Minister has provided us with a much-needed route out of lockdown and will now allow us to start to plan for reopening our doors at Prestonfield and The Witchery on 26th April and to rebuild our businesses and the economy. We are very much looking forward to popping a few corks on 26th April, no matter the weather and to welcoming everyone back again.”
Nic Wood, Owner of Edinburgh-based Signature Group, Scotland’s leading pub, bar and restaurant collection, said, “We’re grateful that the First Minister has provided a clear, concise re-opening schedule and we look forward to 26th April to open our doors and serve customers outside, initially. This is much-needed announcement as businesses must plan, invest, retrain, educate and prepare to reopen in 2021 after a devastating 2nd wave of Coronavirus. For most of the central belt, we have not served alcohol since 8th October 2020 and whilst we won’t be popping champagne corks, to enable people to enjoy a cocktail with a main meal is progress and demonstrates a degree of trust from the First Minister in the behaviours of the general public and operators.
“Whilst there has never been any evidence to suggest hospitality spread the virus, and the restrictions to trade & guidance to operate make transmission unlikely, we are encouraged that the Scottish Government is listening and beginning to understand the complexities of our sector. No one is underestimating the effects of the pandemic and public health is right to be at the forefront of all minds but we need to consider the economic implications and find the right balance. Jobs must be protected and this news will come as relief the 250000 employed in the Scottish hospitality industry. Reopening will be steady and practical and we need customers and patrons to come out, when they feel the time is right and support their bars & restaurants.”
Signature Group operates McLarens on the Corner in Morningside; Cold Town House in the Grassmarket; The Huxley on Rutland Street; Copper Blossom on Gorge Street; Badger & Co on Castle Street, and a number of other quality food and drink venues across the capital and the rest of Scotland.
Stefano Pieraccini, Director of The Broughton on Broughton Street, said, “I think it’s largely positive news that we’ve finally got an indicative reopening date to work towards, but an earlier announcement in line with England would have given the industry a better chance to prepare.
“Those businesses with outside space are clearly going to get a head start to serve alcohol with food, but that isn’t going to work for very businesses model. We now need to make some quick decisions about whether or not it’s viable for us to deliver an alfresco service to our St Andrews customers in the short term.”
Tom Campbell, Executive Chair of North Coast 500 Ltd, said, “It is really encouraging to see positive steps in the reopening of the hospitality and tourism sectors and while there is still caution, businesses and communities now have the ability to plan for a relaxation in the restrictions. While we have consistently said that everyone needs to follow the Government guidelines, it can be said now with a more positive approach and belief that the reopening of these local businesses, that are vital to the Highlands economy, is in sight.”
Tanja Lister, owner of the Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland on the North Coast 500, said, “We very much welcome the indicative timelines as set out by the First Minister this afternoon. After a bruising year, we’re eagerly awaiting to reopen our doors once more and welcome back our much-missed guests.
“Whilst it has inevitably been, and continues to be, a challenging time, the messages of support and the pent up demand have carried us through this. The last year has underlined the key role that hospitality and tourism plays as part of our way of life and also wellbeing. We will be ready with that famous Highland welcome just as soon as restrictions lift.”
Murray Lamont, proud owner of Mackays Hotel in Wick, Caithness said, “This is the news we have been waiting to hear and thank the First Minister for listening to us. Hospitality and Tourism are the foundation of the northern economy and probably the worst affected industry by Covid.
“The industry understands and respects the need to be responsible and adhere to rules for everybody’s safety and wellbeing. The dates given of reducing the mainland from level 4 to level 3 is a great start as is the lifting of travel restrictions. We need to know the detail of the modified levels so as we know how exactly hospitality will operate.
“The hospitality industry is desperately eager to demonstrate the warm highland welcome visitors are used to. We must be able to provide the best the Highlands has to offer in food and drink offerings.
“We can now have a clear plan, so as we structure the opening of our business, at the moment many wholesalers and suppliers in the supply chain have furloughed their staff and need time to get people back in place. The simple things like bread milk cheese and cream, supplies have been cut due to lack of demand from hotels. Breweries will need at least four weeks to get supplies back on track and beer into our cellars.
“Many well-established businesses are on the edge and some business owners are facing collapse. The announcement of further help with 100 per cent rates relief for the year with restart grants will help greatly and reduce the risk ahead. People now have the opportunity to book trips around the North Coast 500 with confidence knowing that attractions can open and Hospitality business’ will look after them.”
Quintin Stevens, owner of the Storehouse at Dingwall on the North Coast 500, said:
“We’re delighted to be finally getting an indicative date for the reopening of hospitality in the North Highlands, which we can all support and start planning towards. We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to The Storehouse and the wider North Coast 500 as soon as it’s safe to travel.”